Category: Meeting Summary

February 13- Laurel Hill Cemetery

Nancy Goldenberg, CEO of Laurel Hill and West Laurel Hill cemeteries spoke of the cemeteries as cultural centers in Philadelphia. They are a national historical landmark, with the graves of thousands of Civil War veterans and others since that time. Both sites are still active as cemeteries.


The group operates two cemeteries and a funeral home, with 50 staff members and 40-50 volunteers.


Nancy spoke about current trends in funerals: cremation (over half of all Americans are cremated at death), green burials (unbound corpse in biodegradable container), pet burials, and other new technologies. Laurel Hill has all of these things available.


The cemeteries also sponsors performances, internships, horticultural programs, and outdoor cultural programs for the public.

November 28, 2018 – PA Horticultural Society

Today’s meeting was held at Face-To-Face Germantown, a charitable organization that was described to us several weeks ago at a club meeting. The club made a donation to the organization today.


Presentation by Glen Abrams, Philadelphia Horticultural Society (PHS)

The single biggest project of PHS is the annual flower show, which has been running since 1829. The 2019 show is scheduled for March 2-10, and is entitled “Flower Power ”.


Glen reviewed a number of the programs that PHS is involved in outside of the flower show:

The greenhouse in Meadowbrook

pop-up gardens

Greening project

City Harvest – working with prisoners to provide jobs for returning citizens

Neighborhood Gardens Trust – local gardens

Tree Tenders – training for the care of trees. 2000 trees planted annually

Treevitalize watersheds – work with local districts to reforest along streams

Philadelphia land care – clean and maintain 12,000 vacant lots – work with local residents and businesses Neighborhood parks – improve local sites

Maintain public landscapes – for example, around Rodin Museum, Navy Yard

Horticultural education schools

Rain check – residential stormwater management

Horticultural education


PHS, founded in 1827, has 21,000 member households and 5000 volunteers. It has a budget of $27.5 million.

November 7, 2018 – Rotary Foundation, Bududa Learning Center, Novelist

November 7, 2018 – Rotary Foundation, Ugandan Learning Center, Andra Watkins, novelist


Through a scheduling mix-up, we had three speakers this past week, but those in attendance were invigorated and charmed by all three of the speakers.


  1. Bonnie Korengel, representing District 7454 Rotary international and assistant regional Rotary foundation coordinator

The Rotary foundation was founded over 100 years ago. All the projects supported by the foundation have now been fit under six major areas: promoting peace, fighting disease, providing clean water, saving mothers and children, supporting education, and growing local economies.


Statistics to illustrate these issues: 400 million children immunized against polio every year, one in three people worldwide lack access to a toilet, 1 in 10 people lack access to clean water, 59 million children of primary school age are not enrolled in school, 750 million adults are illiterate, 2/3 of them are women.


To these ends, the foundation has a fund drive every year with the slogan EREY: Every Rotarian Every Year. Our local chairman is Lou Richman.


The money raised by the foundation is kept for three years, and the earnings on this support the administration of the fund. After that time, the money is returned, to be used for district grants (in 2018-19, $86,563 came back to District 7450) and half is used for global grants.


  1. Barbara Wybar, administrator of Wybar Learning Center in Bududa, Uganda

Barbara is a Quaker called to go to Uganda, where she has helped to run the Learning Center. The biggest project currently is a vocational Academy, where seven categories of skills are taught to locals.


Our club as a tradition of donating money for support of this center.


  1. Andra Watkins (andrawatkinslcom) is a novelist interested in historical phenomena. She wrote a novel about the supposed suicide of Meriwether Lewis (of Lewis and Clark), and then decided to publicize this novel by walking the 444 mile Natchez Trace.


Andra gave a very stimulating description of getting started on this walk, and how she eventually bonded with her father. She wrote a memoir that is very touching in its description of the changing relationship that she has had with her father because of this trip – Not Without My Father. She has written three novels based on historical circumstances, all available both in print and as e-books.

October 31, 2018 – just vote – it matters

October 31, 2018 – Just Vote – It Matters

Dennis Lee, who has worked in the office of the City Commissioner (voting supervision), founder of the organization Just Vote, emphasizes that this is a movement to promote, create awareness, and energize voters on the importance of why every vote matters

This is a nonpartisan organization, working to bring out voters, regardless of whom they vote for in any given election, only 12 to 20% of the voters vote. In the November 2018 election, it is projected that 25% of the over 1 million eligible voters in Philadelphia will vote.

Philadelphia County has about 800,000 Democrats registered, and about 125,000 Republicans. The second largest concentration of voters in the state, Allegheny County, has about 560,000 Democrats and 240,000 Republicans.

In 2017, in Philadelphia only the ninth Ward, including Chestnut Hill, had a turnout exceeding 50%. In some divisions, no one voted at all.

Dennis emphasized the importance of voting for the maintenance of a democracy. He stressed the message that one should make voting a part of one’s strategic plan. “Just Vote – It Matters”.

October 17, 2018 – District governor

We inducted Monty Claybrook as a new member.


Certificate of appreciation for Rotary work presented by District Governor Paul Quintavalla to Rebecca Anwar


Pau L Quintavalla, district Governor, has begun his year as Governor of District 7450.


1) to have the clubs served better by the administration of the district

2) to get clubs to know one another

Methods to do this:

Increase of assistant governors to 14, each with 4 clubs. They will visit each club twice a year.

The president of each club should meet with the president of at least 3 other clubs.


Strategic plan for the district – currently in draft form

Review of district bylaws, 37 pages have been reduced to 7 pages

Publicity committee – teach clubs how to use the Internet to recruit members

Exchange of club information

There will be a list of fundraising project in all district clubs

November 10 – Rotary foundation day, each club must have at least one participant to be eligible for district or international groups.

Webinars will be added on this topic

The district newsletter is available online.

District conference – set for March 15-16, 2019

October 10, 2018 – Artwell

In an expansion of the club’s work with the Parkway Northwest High School for Peace and Social Justice, club is sponsoring a project presented by Artwell. Artwell “engages young people in reflection and creative expression to discover and honor their strengths and those of others.”


The Reverend Susan Teegen, executive director of Artwell, presented ideas regarding the importance of arts for the development of children’s capacities. “Arts” includes not just plastic arts, but also poetry, drumming, and other forms of creative endeavors. The results of many of these projects were shown on slides, including both pictures and poems.


She maintains that we are all born with “creative genius”, and students who experience art education are three times more likely to graduate from high school, to vote, and to participate positively in other areas of life.


Donations help provide supplies, workshops, and teaching artists to nearly 1000 students all over Philadelphia. Another project includes sending art supply kits home with children for summer activity. For more information on the various activities, visit


The organization currently has 10 staff members and 25 teaching artists. Most of the work is done in grades K-12, but there is also a leadership council that includes people up to the age of 24. Funding is provided by local foundations and a few other donors.

September 26, 2018 – Mt. Airy USA


Mt. Airy USA is an organization devoted to upgrading and developing both small businesses and residences in Mt. Airy and adjacent areas. Aggie Edwards is a specialist in working with small business owners to develop an entrepreneurial approach to business.


The object is to find tools helping individuals to run their own businesses, with such programs as cooperation with the Community College of Philadelphia in its training sessions on “Power up Your Business”.


Aggie is a specialist in making contacts and giving advice to small business owners and prospective owners on how to proceed. She is especially interested in working with people who want to be their own boss. To that end, she gave a summary of her own career in working independently while maintaining contacts with larger organizations (e.g., Avon products).

September 19, 2018 – International Institute for Peace through Tourism

IIPT – International Institute for Peace through Tourism

presentation by president Louis D’Amore

Tourism generates directly and indirectly about 10% of jobs around the world. Louis D‘Am founded the organization in 1986 in order to promote the development of sustainable tourism.


The group is interested in promoting a “higher purpose“ of tourism.

Much of the work involves in establishing peace parks around the world; currently there are about 450, with the aim of having 2000 by the year 2020. In many cases local Rotary clubs are sponsors of these parks.

Club meeting, September 12, 2018 – Urban Resources Development Corporation

Joe Waldo presented the work of the Urban Resources Development  Corporation. This group was founded in 1995, and is now sponsored by 12 religious congregations devoted to community stabilization in Northwest Philadelphia.


Initially, the group was involved in housing rehabilitation. It purchased and renovated over 30 homes, with a focus on “the first abandoned house” in a block. Prevention of that first deterioration is a way of preventing the deterioration of the rest of the block. Home prices in Germantown have begun to rise, and now the organization spends only about 10% of its resources on this program.


The major focus of the organization is now assisting low income, elderly homeowners with home repair. The group identifies and manages contractors and helps provide low interest loans through Univest bank. Currently, about one house every 10 days gets this work done on the outside of the house, and there are now 52 families on a waiting list.


Rotary could get involved in this by sending individual volunteers, contributing to a specific project, or in many other inventive ways. The URDC receives no governmental funds; all financing is done through foundations and individual contributions.

August 29, 2018 – Education Law Center

Deborah Gordon Klehr, executive director of the Education Law Center, explained the work of her group that is dedicated to ensuring access to a quality public education in the state of Pennsylvania. There are 3 major strategies:

  • access to quality public education for all children in Pennsylvania
  • dismantling the school to prison pipeline (this means reducing punishment that is meted out to children who are too young or who are discriminated against in various senses)
  • fight for fair funding for all school districts in the state.

The center, which is funded by foundation grants and individual contributions, receives many comments and complaints about issues in the schools. The center looks for patterns that it considers inappropriate in the schools, and works to provide remedies. Although the group does go to court if necessary, the preference is to solve issues by discussion and by emphasizing policies that are mandated by existing laws.


Further information can be found on the website of the group at